During the spring and summer, laughter fills the air at Adventure Zone, where rollicking rides and challenging outdoor games keep spirits high from April to September. Visitors bond over friendly races at the go-kart track, compete for the ownership of plush toys at the center’s arcade, or hone their sporting skills on the miniature-golf course or within the batting cages. The park’s concession stand stocks a range of salty and sweet snacks, which help quell cravings or prevent midrace pizza runs.
More than 120,000 species of trees, wildflowers, and native plants take root across The Holden Arboretum’s 3,600 acres of themed gardens and natural terrain. As birds chirp overhead and butterflies binge on nectar plants, visitors make their way across 12 gardens on guided tours or leisurely strolls. The most intrepid wanderers can spend a full day attempting to navigate more than 20 miles of trails that wind through a rhododendron garden, a mature beech-maple forest, and a waterfowl observation blind. Guides facilitate a more focused experience during forest explorations and home landscaping sessions, the latter of which demonstrate how to add a lifelike smile to topiary sculptures of the mailman. The arboretum also hosts numerous lecture series, youth programs, and special events such as Fridays in the Garden, where light refreshments accompany presentations or walks with horticultural experts.
Bright sunshine fills Red Hawk Farms’ outdoor riding area, where dusty earth quickly transforms into horse-shaped clouds as equestrians ride majestic steeds. Red Hawk Farms also boasts an indoor arena that ensures that riders can ride rain or shine. Trumpeteer Stables, Quiet Meadow Farm, and Hampton Hill Stables share both spaces, which set the stage for pintsized beginners and experienced riders to hone their riding skills and practice neighing each other's names. Athletes lace up boots and don helmets before embarking on lessons or daytime summer camps that, for older attendees, stretch into sleepovers on Thursday night. A more competitive environment prevails when riders on the Interscholastic Equestrian team launch their horses over hurdles and around sharp bends during shows.
The fleet of 14 school horses at Summer Wind Stables allows riders of all skill levels to study and appreciate horsemanship, a subject that encompasses both riding and horse care. Each lesson program is structured so that riders can learn at their own pace as they cover horse-related topics such as grooming, tacking, bathing, and proper riding technique. The stable’s steadfast commitment to safety, which prohibits riding without an approved helmet, enables riders to develop their confidence and assertiveness while practicing in the styles of hunter/jumper, dressage, or eventing. Meanwhile, a staff of active horseback riders mans the shop at Summer Wind Stables, lending advice to those searching for gifts, tack, apparel, or riding accessories.
A member of a previously undiscovered species known as skateasaurus stakes its territory, tracing figure eights along the rink's hardwood floor. Dressed in blue-and-white shorts and a red trucker hat, the plush, green-and-yellow dinosaur—otherwise known as Skato—eschews eating children, and instead prompts them to shake it all about in rounds of Hokey Pokey. This fun ambiance extends to the rest of United Skates of America's roller rink, surrounded by lime-green walls and manned by a smiling staff. Inside the laser-tag arena, the outline of an asteroid belt and nearby planets pulsates under the glow of a black light as gunners duck behind posts and arches before homing in on their enemies or attempting to scan their allies' groceries. Around the rink, tables buckle under hot pizzas at bright-yellow booths, and gamers hone their skills at the nearby arcade in exchange for prizes such as backpacks, stuffed toys, and glow necklaces.
Home to more than 50 bowling leagues, Wickliffe Lanes' synthetic alleyways accommodate sphere hurlers of all skill levels seven days a week, which is one of the many reasons it earned Fox 8's Best Bowling award in 2010. Between frames, bowlers seek nourishment at two full-service bars or at the in-house grill; 12 billiard tables, an arcade, and 20 high-definition TVs also keep minds off high-stakes frames. The smoke-free bowling mecca hosts family-friendly open bowling and provides retractable bumpers, which eliminate gutter balls much like bicycle helmets eliminate bad hair days.